In her shoes: Nicky Mullins | Head of PMO | Worldpay

Nicky Mullins Head of PMO - WorldpaySince working as a Saturday Morning girl in my parents’ Hardware Store, I have always enjoyed getting behind the scenes and understanding what makes businesses tick. I therefore studied Management Sciences at Warwick Business School, before joining Accenture as a Management Consultant as part of their Graduate Scheme 12 years ago. I stayed at Accenture for 6 years, working my way up from Analyst to Manager, establishing a good foundation of experience across multiple industries and geographies, before leaving and moving into more specialist project and programme management roles in the Financial Sector.

In 2013 my husband was posted to Australia with the Army and we jumped at the opportunity of a 2 year placement there. Moving to the other side of the world, where we knew no one, is definitely up there in terms of our big life challenges, however it was a fantastic career experience that opened my eyes to roles outside of Consultancy. When we returned to the UK I was keen to find a company where I could put down roots, rather than always “rolling off” onto the next client.

I joined WorldPay as Head of the PMO, which covers delivery of 120+ IT projects. Since joining in September 2014 we have established a brand new PMO function which has included the design and implementation of a new Project Methodology and Toolkit. No two days are ever the same here and I love the rewards as well as the challenges that this brings.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I tend to be an early riser and therefore my day starts in the office at about 07:30 as this is the best time to get work done before all of the project teams arrive in the office. With porridge in hand I review the day ahead and identify any projects that require specific support or prepare the executive project reporting.

As we cover over 120 projects, the day usually ends having jumped between a lot of different project meetings and therefore I have lots of actions and issues running through my head. I try to end the day summarising key actions from the meetings, kicking off resolution plans or reviewing governance reports that have been prepared by my team ahead of distribution.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

To be honest No. In the Army, my husband has his career mapped out 5 years in advance and I have always wondered what it would be like to know even 2 years in advance what my future has in store. I have always had a vague “direction of travel”, rather than a career plan, however I have found that the majority of opportunities arise when you least expect it and therefore it’s been good to have the flexibility to react to those chances as and when they crop up.

What do you love about working for Worldpay?

I laugh every single day! Whether it’s in team meetings, project working groups or Senior Management meetings, I find there is always time for people to have a joke with one another, which really helps to improve overall engagement, even during the tougher discussions. I’m also learning more now than I have ever learned before. Worldpay is at a very exciting stage and it’s really interesting to be a part of it.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

I think everyone has experienced challenges, however different people cope with these in different ways depending on what is going on in the rest of your life. I think the most important thing is being able to acknowledge when you need support. This is often the hardest first step as you tend to dig yourself deeper before you seek help. Being able to talk through problems with others, helps me to clear out the noise and find a clear path of actions to implement. I am also very lucky to have an exceptionally supportive husband and family who always help me to put things in perspective and de-stress at the end of a long and busy week.

I found that it helps to have a mentor who knows you and knows your industry, however doesn’t have direct involvement in your current company or role.

How have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

Definitely! I found that it helps to have a mentor who knows you and knows your industry, however doesn’t have direct involvement in your current company or role. It means that the mentor can be more impartial and help you to see opportunities or challenges that you may not see when working within a specific company. I believe that it also helps to act as a coach or a mentor to others. Providing this support enables you to remember and articulate some of the learnings that you have received, which in turn can help you as much as the person who you are sponsoring or mentoring.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

I tend to focus on developing and maintaining my personal network rather than taking part in impersonal professional networking events. I find this has worked better for me as it means that I have more authentic and genuine engagement with others, rather than the forced conversations which can make networking events uncomfortable.

Have a “can do” attitude. In my experience this has helped me through every stage of my career.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles either inside or outside their own organisations?

Have a “can do” attitude. In my experience this has helped me through every stage of my career. This doesn’t mean that you have to take on every problem, however it is a respected trait which means that people will be keen to work and engage with you. It is also essential to take a genuine interest in others and have awareness of those around you. Take time to attend talks or events that colleagues are organising. They will appreciate your support and you will learn more about the wider organisation in the process.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in your area?

Be constantly curious. In Project Management there will always be new things to learn about and different ways of doing things. Enjoy meeting new people and getting to understand how they tackle different situations and work with them to help break down problems and find alternative solutions.

What does the future hold for you?

Ironically the only thing that is certain in my life is change! I know that my husband will continue to move roles with the Army every 2 years so that will always bring variety whatever I’m doing and will mean a lot of house moves and new commutes! I look forward to continuing to embed the new mature project management processes into WorldPay and being a part of the company’s growth. Beyond that it depends on whatever opportunity presents itself!

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